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Joni Mitchell, fresh from ‘Almost Famous’ Old Globe visit, will get NAMM Show Les Paul Innovation Award Print-ready version

by George Varga
San Diego Union Tribune
December 9, 2019

Music legend Joni Mitchell (right) and San Diego-bred film director and writer Cameron Crowe (left) are shown here at San Diego’s Old Globe theater following the Sept. 27 world premiere of the musical version of “Almost Famous.” Mitchell, 76, will receive the Les Paul Innovation Award at the NAMM Show’s annual TEC Awards in January in Anaheim.(Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

Four years after suffering a brain aneurysm, the famed singer-songwriter is slowly easing back into public life. In January, she will receive the Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards in Anaheim.

Joni Mitchell, who turned 76 on Nov. 7, appears to be continuing to ease her way back into public life as she recovers from the 2015 brain aneurysm she suffered at her Los Angeles home.

On Monday, it was announced that the legendary singer-songwriter will receive the Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards. Mitchell plans to attend the Jan. 18 event, according to a representative for NAMM, short for the Carlsbad-based National Association of Music Merchants.

The 2020 NAMM Show will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center from Jan. 16-19. The NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards, at which Mitchell will be honored, takes place in the Pacific Ballroom of the adjacent Hilton Anaheim Hotel.

The trailblazing Canadian troubadour made quite a splash in September, when she attended the Old Globe's world premiere theatrical production of Cameron Crowe's Broadway-bound movie-turned-stage-musical, "Almost Famous." Mitchell also attended the opening night after-party, which lasted well into the midnight hour.

She will now become the first female musician to receive the Les Paul Innovation Award. It is named after the late Les Paul, who has long been hailed as the father of the electric guitar. Previous recipients of the annual award, first presented in 2011, include The Who mastermind Pete Townshend, former Fleetwood Mac mainstay Lindsey Buckingham, Todd Rundgren and famed producer, bassist and Blue Note Records honcho Don Was.

"We are excited that Joni will be the first female recipient of the prestigious Les Paul Innovation Award," Michael Braunstein, executive director of The Les Paul Foundation, said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

"Like Les, she has been a trailblazer and a true renaissance woman - a songwriter, musician, producer and influencer who made her mark with very influential songs in the '60s. She has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a female singer-songwriter over the course of her four-decade career, and like Les Paul, she's never been scared to take creative risks. We are thrilled that Joni Mitchell will join the list of extraordinary recipients that represent the spirit of the legendary Les Paul."

"Thank you for this honor," Mitchell said in the same Monday statement. "I'm grateful for being appreciated."

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The NAMM Show typically attracts more than 100,000 attendees each year and is open only to members of NAMM, the world's largest music instrument and technology trade organization.

However, the general public can attend the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards, at which Mitchell will be honored. Tickets are priced at $65 (general admission) and $195 (VIP), and are available online. The Jan. 18 awards show will begin with a VIP-only reception at 6 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 7. "Saturday Night Live" alum and "Portlandia" TV series co-creator Fred Armisen will host the event.

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